Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quick knitting post

I'm in summer vay-cay mode: getting a little bit of work done on things like planning my courses and reading and writing, but doing other things a lot more than I usually do, like hanging out with family, watching teevee (dudes, the TOUR DE FRANCE is on!!), and knitting.

The Yarn Harlot has written about how important it is that a Knitter (capital K) consider carefully what projects to bring on the road. You have to think about portability (small projects are best), but you also have to think about variety (a simple project for a car or plane ride, plus a more challenging/interesting project, and maybe a variety of yarn types or colors...). And when you're a gazillion miles from home, you don't want to run out of yarn or not have the right needles--especially because you can't count on finding a yarn shop in these post-recession times. Careful planning is required!

I've been really happy with the projects I brought with me this time. One is a baby socks & hat set out of this wonderfully entertaining colorway:

(blue! pink! brown! green! red! Perhaps I am easily amused...)

I've finished one set and have started a second. (There seem to be a lot of people having babies lately; I wonder what's up with that!)

The other is a baby blanket (pattern here, on knitty.com). If you're not a knitter, you might consider skipping the next paragraph lest your eyes glaze over...

The excellently clever thing about this particular blanket is that it's got miter squares but there ISN'T any annoying stitching-squares-together process at the end. When you finish one square, you pick up or cast on stitches for the next. It's so cool!

(You can get a sense of the construction from this photo...)

And while I'm using very practical, washer-and-dryer friendly yarn, the colorway is important: turquoise. A bunch of references to turquoise have been coming up for me lately.

One is LeAnne Howe's discussion of the color blue-green in the Choctaw language. (If I'm remembering correctly, you can find it in Miko Kings, one of my favorite novels.) When a word has this root in it, it means the thing you're talking about has life. Blue-green is the color that means something is alive, has spirit. Wow.

And of course there was all the turquoise I saw while traveling in the U.S. southwest recently. I picked up The Anthropology of Turquoise there and have just started it:

And here's the FO (finished object) in its new setting:

(Front porch still life with blanket, driftwood, and potted plant...)

I'm giving it to a friend for a giveaway he's doing at a pow-wow this weekend in South Dakota. I'm hoping it will help a family celebrate the new life of their baby, and set that baby on a good path, one of listening to spirit. Mitakuye oyasin!

May you find a color that fascinates you today!


Monday, July 18, 2011

On the road again...

We've been on the road, traveling to some of our favorite places... (As far as posting goes, I think I'm going to be in intermission from the Four Corners posts for a while; I'm still figuring out how to process some of that trip!) (And for the robbers out there: a) there's not much in our house worth stealing, and b) we have house-sitters.)

Things we love about Minnesota and Minneapolis

Two of our favorite bookstores in the world live in Minneapolis--Birchbark Books and Wild Rumpus. We visited both this year. If you're there, you should go! Birchbark has a great selection, and it's a bookstore run by writers. Plus there's a cafe next door. Wild Rumpus has a great selection of books for kids and young adults, plus there are CHICKENS and other animals in the store as well as the traditional bookstore cats. For real.

Here's Dexter at the door to Wild Rumpus:

(There are two doors there--the grown-ups' one and the purple kids' door inside it...)

Would you believe, when we first started going there, that he fit through the little door? I always duck through it even though I'm too big, but this year the difference was that it embarrassed him. :( I think I redeemed myself, though, when I picked up one of the chickens and held her long enough for him to pet her.

We usually stay at an inexpensive hotel (relatively speaking) near the Mall of America; my favorite thing about that place is the amusement park rides in the middle. And this year Dexter and Patrick declared this one to be the best:

(whee! In the middle you go through a cave where Paul Bunyan tells you something... but we could never make out what the heck he was saying.)

We went on it several times just to be sure.

Another great thing about Minneapolis? REAL public transportation!

(Another one rides the bus...)

The tricky thing on this particular bus ride was that there was a guy in the back very loudly telling some, um, very colorful adult-situation-laced stories.... but hey, on the bright side, Dexter gained a little worldly knowledge, right? And what better place than public transportation to experience that, right? Right? (sigh)

In addition to hitting our usual favorite places, on this trip we explored a bit and went over to St. Paul, a great place for writers, like these two:

(Don't they look great together? Like they've just come back from lunch or something?)

And we went to the Science Museum of Minnesota, which we enjoyed thoroughly. On one of the decks outside, we were able to see the Mississippi River...

... and enjoy the view. This was one of my favorite pieces in the museum:

(Dang--I can't find where I wrote down the artist's name; I'll add it here later if I can find it!)

It's a mechanical creation where, as you push the button and make the gears go, the tiger types, the top of his head opens to reveal a fish swimming round inside, and the piece of paper emerges from his typewriter with the word "fish" repeated on it. I thought it expressed something true about writing...

As we drove toward South Dakota, we stopped and had a picnic lunch; look who joined us!

(Sadly, we did not have any peas or corn.)

And we stopped overnight in one of my favorite places on the planet, Pipestone National Monument.

(Prairie + creek + sacred stone = happy me)

We were able to walk on most of the trail the day we arrived, which turned out to be good because that night there was a thunderstorm with enough rain to flood the bridges and trails the next day.

It was hot as heck, and humid, and there were plenty of mosquitoes, so we didn't linger in any one place very long, but it was a really good evening walk.

Later that evening one of our party found something right near our hotel, on the courthouse square, that made him quite happy...

(That is one happy boy!)

He has been studying WWII and could tell us lots of things about this particular tank. It's a machine of war, so I was wary (as always), but it was nice to find something along the way that Dexter was so engaged in.

Well, the library is about to close, which means my wi-fi access is going bye-bye for the day. (There's no wi-fi at Grandma's house; heck, there's no microwave there, and there IS a rotary wall phone. It's like stepping back into 1972!) I'll post more soon about South Dakota and our continuing adventures on the plains.

Hope you are enjoying a good summer!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Intermission II: in which we learn I might be a security threat...

Hello! We are just back from a quicker-than-we'd-have-liked trip to the east coast to see some sights and visit some relatives. (Mostly I wanted the boy to see some of his kin--and for them to see him and how fast he's growing!)

Anyhow, one of the highlights of the trip was spending two days with my brother, who took us to see cool stuff, one day in D.C. and one day in Harper's Ferry.

In D.C., before we went to the NMAI (I wanted to see an exhibit there and relished the chance to share with my loved ones what I love about that place), we decided to tour the Capitol visitor's center. It didn't exist when I was a kid; if you wanted to see the capitol, you just walked in; maybe you opted for a tour, but you could just wander about and look at stuff if you wanted to. Of course, in a post-9/11 world, that is right out the window. The new (opened in 2008) visitor's center is a resplendent underground building filled with statues, artifacts, and exhibits on the history of the capitol.

But before you can go in, you have to go through security.

I had something on my person that was apparently a threat:
(cotton washcloth in progress... sorry for the blurriness)

Yup, that's my knitting. Yup, right there on the security sign it said that pointy objects, like knitting needles, were not allowed in. Pencils and pens were okay, but NO knitting needles.

I was annoyed. I refrained from pointing out to the guard that pencils are just as dangerous as knitting needles. Instead, I asked if there was a locker or someplace I could store it while we toured the building. The younger guard suggested I put it in the trash. (I am not kidding. I wanted to smack him. I think the fact that I did not shows great restraint on my part.)

I looked around, and there was definitely no place to put it. I decided to stash it behind a wall--not exactly hidden, but sort of. I thought to myself: okay, I'm leaving it to the gods (and the kindness of strangers); if it's still here when we get back, that's great, but if not, I won't be upset.

(Here is my knitting project in its "hiding" place...)

So we went back in, and this time went through the security gate. And I was denied entrance, this time for something buried in a pocket of my purse:
(offending item #2)

Here's a photo of it in my hand, unfolded, for scale:
(national security threat = I might snip someone?)

I carry this tool around in my purse because it's handy, not because I want to hurt anyone. I was quickly going from "annoyed" to "incensed" to "pissy," especially given the fact that I've been through airport security a bunch of times with knitting, and even once with these scissors (I forgot they were in my bag until after the trip!). But my brother pointed out, rightly, that the guards at the capitol have been assaulted and hurt in the past, so they're being extra careful nowadays. I grumbled and moaned, but got myself back to civil with a super-quick walk to the car and back to stow my threatening items.

After which I was sweating like a horse. (Ask someone who knows D.C. to tell you about the humidity... The place was built on a swamp!)

But then when we got in the statuary hall, I saw an old friend and that did wonders for my mood.
(I love how this statue suggests movement! You can also see how my hair & eyes suggest humidity... erg.)

This is Sarah Winnemucca, native activist and writer of My Life Among the Piutes. As Patrick took my photo, another family paused to wonder who this person was, and I went into "professor" mode, telling them a little about her life and writing. Patrick said you could really see how excited I was about seeing this statue, and about teaching others about her.

So probably my FBI file is a little thicker from this adventure, but I had a good time. Here are some other pictures from that day:

(King Kamehameha of Hawai'i)

(replica of Freedom, the statue atop the Capitol dome...)

(Here she is full-length.)

(Better keep an eye on this group of suspicious-looking characters...)

(One of my favorite things about the NMAI: it's a giant building that, in some ways, is very unobtrusive!)

(There was a group doing Polish dancing! We only watched them for a minute or two--in a hurry to get to dinner--but it was kind of cool.)

(Mr. Pointy Head; or maybe he's doing his impression of a unicorn?)

I hope you avoid doing anything that makes your FBI file thicker today...